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Irène Némirovsky – Fire In The Blood

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Passion before everything – even love.

Publisher: Vintage (Random House)
Pages: 151
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-0-099-51609-5
First Published: 2007
Date Reviewed: 30th June 2014
Rating: 4/5

Original language: French
Original title: Chaleur du Sang (Blood Heat)
Translated by: Sandra Smith

Silvio sees his relatives a fair amount, as well as the various other people of his village. Their lives are full of intrigue, but as for himself he is boring and set in his ways. He would tell you this himself; he used to be far more active, travelling around the world. Now others can live life.

He does indeed sound dull, doesn’t he? Némirovsky’s Fire In The Blood is a slow read that ambles on, being everything about everybody else until the conclusion.

The book is very short; an afternoon read. It spans many seasons, switching suddenly, which has the effect of illustrating both how monotonous Silvio’s life is, and how long people willing live unhappily. It’s not as literary as Suite Française, in the way that there are fewer themes to study, and it is a step down from the masterpiece, its length suggesting what its nature is. Considered on its own, however, it’s not bad at all.

Silvio is boring (repeated because this is something you will be thinking constantly as you remember Lockwood and the accompanying wish that another had told that tale) but this allows his narration to be good. He never gets distracted. There are few themes in this book, understandably. Passion. Love. There is the sense of a question – how/when do we break the cycle started long ago, of children following in their parents’ mistaken footsteps? Némirovsky looks at why people do what they do, which, given the time in which she lived, is inevitably caught up in appearances, marrying for money and marrying because it is expected and so forth. And she looks at how people can give up when things don’t go according to plan. She looks, too, at pretence, at faux normality, and at how a change on either person’s upkeep of pretence can bring everything crashing down. In this Némirovsky makes you question all you’ve read so far, beckoning that desire to want to read the book again because no matter what former ideas you had, you’re going to want a second look at that series of events.

Short but not sweet, Fire In The Blood is relatively untaxing but a fair choice of reading material. It may not be Némirovsky’s best but when her best exceeds all else, anything a little less is quite fine enough.

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July 9, 2014, 11:10 am

This is another author I would like to try one day

Literary Feline

July 9, 2014, 8:12 pm

I don’t know much about this author’s writing other than Suite Francaise, but I am curious about her writing given the praise her incomplete book received. This might be a good one to try,


July 15, 2014, 1:04 pm

This was the first book I read by this author and I liked it very much, I suppose because I didn’t have anything else to compare.
Great literature.



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